Mobile Marketing For Small Business

Mobile Marketing For Small Businesses

Even though India is today the second largest market for smartphones in the world, only a quarter or so of the population has access to smart devices. Add that to other factors such as the lack of internet infrastructure, and mobile connectivity issues. People think mobile marketing is not a major marketing medium to consider. If you agree to this line of thought, you’re wrong. Here’s why:

Pain Points of Indian eCommerce

Pain Points of Indian eCommerce

India is on the verge of an Internet boom and is projected to have between 330 million to 370 million internet users by 2015. That would give India the second largest base of internet users in the world behind China. The explosive growth in internet usage has more recently led to a corresponding growth in online business and eCommerce. This growth presents both great opportunities as well as some unique challenges.

eCOMMERCE SEGMENTS

eCommerce in India can be broadly divided into the Business-to-Business (B2B) and the Business-to-consumer (B2C) segments. In this post we will be focusing on the trends, opportunities and challenges in the B2C segment.

Business to Consumer (B2C) eCommerce market in India is set to grow at the fastest rate within the Asia-Pacific region at a CAGR of 57% by 2015. So far about 75-80% of all eCommerce transactions in India are travel related, comprising mainly of online booking of airline tickets, railway tickets and hotel bookings. The biggest players in the travel category are MakeMytrip.com, Yatra.com and the Indian Railways’ IRCTC website for railway bookings.

Non-travel related online commerce comprises 20-25% of the B2C eCommerce market and includes:

  • e-tailing or online sales of durable goods
  • Financial services such as insurance and online bill payment
  • Online classified, matrimonial, dating and job websites as well as marketplaces
  • Digital downloads including music, eBooks and paid content subscriptions

Of these e-tailing is the largest and fastest growing segment. The most popular categories here are similar to those in other markets and include consumer electronics, computer hardware, mobile phones, books and apparel. This list is rapidly expanding to include new categories such as appliances, furniture, pet care, organic foods, health care, cosmetics and beauty products. In many ways, India’s e-commerce market is at the same stage of growth as the US was at in the late nineties and China was at about 6 to 7 years ago.

KEY DRIVERS

In 2011 the non-travel eCommerce market size was about $600 million and it is estimated to touch $9 billion in 2016 and $70 billion by 2020 – with an impressive CAGR of 61%. By all accounts it appears that the growth of eCommerce in India is at an inflection point. There are multiple drivers to this growth including :

  • Increasing broadband Internet (growing at 20% MoM) and 3G penetration.
  • Rising standards of living and a burgeoning, upwardly mobile middle class with high disposable incomes.
  • Availability of much wider product range (including long tail and Direct Imports) compared to what is available at brick and mortar retailers.
  • Busy lifestyles, urban traffic congestion and lack of time for physical shopping
  • Lower prices compared to brick and mortar retail, driven by disintermediation and reduced inventory and real estate costs.

MARKET PARTICIPANTS

The opportunity to tap into this exploding new market of online shoppers has predictably led to a gold-rush among Indian entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. It is no surprise therefore that more than $700 million was invested in 2012 into Indian eCommerce companies. Of the 379 technology product start-ups launched as of October 2012, 193 were e-commerce companies. Flipkart which was founded in 2007 has quickly emerged as a leader in this space and received an investment of more than $1,000 million in venture capital between 2012 and 2014 – one of the largest to date in any Indian internet company. It reported $100 million in eCommerce revenues last year and is targeting $1 billion in revenues by 2015.

Amazon.com the world’s leading e-commerce site also entered the Indian market last year with the launch of Junglee.com – a product and price comparison website that aggregates information from different eCommerce websites. Amazon is following a different model by bringing sellers and buyers together and not directly handling the transaction. Other established players include eBay which also offers a marketplace for buyers and sellers.

As with any young and emerging market, there is a lot of fragmentation. In addition to e-tailers such as Flipkart, and marketplace sites such as Ebay, Junglee and OLX, there are also niche websites such as Caratlane (jewelry), online stores of established brick-and-mortar companies such as Shoppers Stop, and deal aggregator sites such as Snapdeal and Crazeal.

CHALLENGESeCommerce Challenges

In spite of the huge opportunity due to the size and growth of the market, eCommerce in India has its own set of unique challenges. Whereas the Indian e-Commerce story has witnessed a lot of action in the last so many years with sites like FlipkartBookMyShowMakeMyTrip and RedBus becoming household names, the number is nowhere close to the number of businesses that have failed. Running an ecommerce business in India is not as easy as it appears.

eCommerce in most mature markets such as the USA works because of certain efficiencies in payment and delivery mechanisms which are missing or underdeveloped in India. The main pain points of Indian eCommerce industry are enumerated under:

  1. Low internet penetration.

    Internet penetration in India is still a small fraction of what you would find in several western countries. On top of that, the quality of connectivity is poor in several regions. But both these problems are fast disappearing. The day is not far when connectivity issues would not feature in a list of challenges to eCommerce in India.

  2. Lack of trust in online vendors.

    Establishing trust in the consumer is critical for the future of B2C eCommerce. The problem of trust online is based in the realities of the eCommerce retail experience, but has also been inflamed by reports of consumer fraud and consumer identity theft based in online transactions. Online shoppers are also reluctant to participate in most online transactions due to credit card security issues and privacy issues.

    Market research indicates that customer service is the key to building customer loyalty. 90% of online shoppers consider satisfactory customer service to be critical when choosing an eCommerce merchant. Exceptional customer service increases customer trust, which encourages repeat purchases and word-of-mouth recommendations. eCommerce companies also need to do their bit to educate people about human-computer interface (HCI), secure payment systems, and reduce refund time.

  3. Mediocre Payment Gateways.

    Using a credit or debit card is not easy in our country; there are several factors like OTP (one-time password) and double authentication method that make the use of a card a cumbersome process. The challenge for the e commerce companies is to make it smooth. Until this is resolved, cash-on-delivery would remain the most primary method of payment.

    Indian payment gateways have an unusually high failure rate by global standards. eCommerce firms should make their payment gateways more convenient keeping in mind the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines and build trust with the customers. eCommerce companies using Indian payment gateways are losing out on business, as several customers do not reattempt payment after a transaction fails.

  4. cash on deliveryCash on Delivery is Preferred Mode of Payment.

    Low credit card penetration and low trust in online transactions has led to cash on delivery being the preferred payment option in India. Eight out of ten online transactions are conducted on a COD basis. However, as per one estimate 45% of all COD orders are rejected at the point of delivery by the customer. This is clearly expensive and not a very sustainable business model. The problem is compounded by the fact that most e-tailers also offer free shipping to acquire and retain customers. Unlike electronic payments, manual cash collection is laborious, risky, and expensive.

  5. High Return Rate.

    eCommerce in India has many first time buyers. This means that they have not yet made up their mind about what to expect from eCommerce websites. As a result, buyers sometimes fall prey to hard sell. But by the time the product is delivered, they demonstrate remorse and return the goods. Though consumer remorse is a global problem, it is all the more prevalent in a country like India, where much of the growth comes from new buyers.

  6. Unreliable Warranties.

    Even as online retail sales continue to shoot up with the e-commerce industry expected to touch Rs.216 billion ($3.5 billion) in the current fiscal, the sector has recently come under fire with both manufacturers and consumers questioning the reliability of warranties for online purchases and the consequences of this.

    Consumer electronics manufacturers like Sony, LG, HP, Nikon, Lenovo, Dell, etc. have on their respective websites said they cannot vouch for the genuineness of products sold on these e-marketplaces and hence the consumer’s right to warranty coverage and support on those products could be impacted.

    International brands have time and again declared that some of the products, if purchased online, are not eligible for a warranty. However, the third party online seller issues a warranty in some instances. For instance, while Tissot issues a two-year international warranty in the name of Tissot S.A, some of the sellers on popular e-commerce websites post it as “one-year Tissot India warranty”. Thus the warranty is not honored by the manufacturer and the buyer has to be satisfied with only a seller’s warranty instead of an original manufacturer’s warranty.

    In other parts of the world, there are statutory warranties in place, which require all manufacturer’s to provide a minimum of service on any legally purchased product. In India, though, online is being equated with the grey market, and instead of increasing customer convenience, it’s another thing we need to perform due diligence over, before making a purchase. Despite a plethora of complaints post-purchases online on warranty issues, India’s laws fail to provide any respite.

  7. Logistics and Delivery.

    Hassle-free eCommerce is possible only when the logistics and supply chain doesn’t pose a problem. In India, most of the online customers lack trust in eCommerce transactions.

    Deficiency in DeliveryDealing with the actual logistics and delivery of goods ordered online is both inefficient and unreliable due to poor roads, traffic congestion and an overall weak transportation infrastructure coupled with India’s vast size and non standardized postal addresses. If you place an online order in India, you will quite likely get a call from the logistics company to ask you about your exact location. Clearly your address is not enough. This is because there is little standardization in the way postal addresses are written. Last mile issues add to eCommerce logistics problems. In fact much of the investment into e-commerce companies is going into logistics. Many e-tailers are setting up their own warehouses and delivery centers to extend their reach and streamline operations.

    With the growth in eCommerce and entry of new companies in the logistics space, things are beginning to look encouraging.

  8. High Cost of Customer Acquisition.

    To get people to come on an eCommerce site and make a purchase involves heavy cost due to advertising and marketing. The long-term prospects for eCommerce companies are so exciting that some investors are willing to spend irrationally high amounts of money to acquire market share today.

    Most e-tailers are losing money and are being propped up with investor capital. The largest player Flipkart is yet to turn a profit. All of this has inevitably led to a high mortality rate and consolidation in the segment. Of the 193 eCommerce companies that were launched in 2012, almost half or 87 have ceased to exist, having either been acquired or shut down as investors cut their losses and trimmed their portfolios.

  9. Razor Thin Margins

    Another factor that is making it harder for eCommerce companies to survive is razor thin gross margins due to deep discounts and intense price competition. In fact many items are sold at a loss to attract customers. Profitability is being ignored at the cost of achieving scale.

  10. Finding a Niche.

    A niche is something that a eCommerce startups can take up but finding a large enough market willing to buy online is going to be a formidable challenge. With low funds, these marketers are unable to find people who are willing to make e-commerce transactions for specific products and/or services.

  11. Customer Service.

    Customer service is something that is overlooked in the Indian context.  However, in this dense eCommerce market, quality customer  support is going to be a big differentiator. Reassuring customers of a situation or telling them the status of a process is sometimes all that is needed to keep the customer from hitting the panic button and taking to public media.

    Getting customer support oriented resources in India will be a challenge that a startup could face.

India’s eCommerce industry has all the potential to grow by leaps and bounds. The only thing required is utmost seriousness in running an online business. Entrepreneurs must ensure to build up portals that are up to the mark. A zeal for propagating the brand and services must be imbibed into potential customers. Issues concerning security and transaction frauds must also be taken into consideration. Proper measures must be taken in order to build up trust into the hearts of buyers who fear transactional frauds and tend to move away from making purchases using the internet. By following a set approach, Indian marketers can definitely attain new heights of success. Comprehensive analysis of online retail portals in India reflects a better future for the Indian eCommerce industry.

References: India Advisory Board

Content Community Commerce

Integrating Content, Commerce and Advertising

The social networks represents 17.4% of social media revenue for eCommerce sites, a figure expected to grow to 40% (according to Converto). Multiplatform optimization will play an increasingly important role for the ongoing integration of content and eCommerce as brands continue to build meaningful connections with customers across all platforms.

Readers are now more sophisticated, compiling personal newsfeeds and relying on Facebook and Twitter friends to serve as their editors. E-commerce sites like Groupon are hiring writers, publishing editorial content and are becoming more like magazines. Rather than relying on someone else’s content, they are now investing in their own, wrapping it around the products in an editorial style.

We are rapidly entering a world which is no longer confined to specific sites or apps, is spread across a decentralized universe of endless blogs and social platforms. Brands must navigate this mix of inspiration and transactional content to deliver a new retail experience and consider their role as editors and curators carefully.

Location Based Marketing

Location Based Marketing Indian SMEs

Location Based Marketing

Location Based Marketing

Location based marketing is the hot potato these days. Engaging with customers real-time is what it’s all about.

Are you familiar with SoLoMo?

It is the combination of social, location, and mobile marketing efforts. These three concentrations are frequently used in conjunction by businesses these days in order to obtain new customers.

You will see SoLoMo in the form of mobile phone applications that use social networking and location data. Consumers crave personalized shopping experiences that meet their various social, technological, and psychological needs, and SoLoMo is all about getting nearby information on demand.

The term SoLoMo describes the environment how consumers share their experiences with their friends and family, search for nearby stores and restaurants and check in at their favorite local businesses. In short it’s really a label, which accurately describes the habits of the modern day consumer.

How it emerged and why it is evolving so quickly comes down to two things that really accelerated the uptake and those being mobile devices and mobile broadband.

Pre-smartphone days we were forced to either open up the laptop or start up the desktop computer if we wanted to connect to the internet and have a burning question answered or check out what was happening with our friends. We can now simply reach into our pockets and instantly open up the page we’re looking for making the internet more accessible and portable.

Smartphones have three characteristics (the 3 A’s) that marketers covet: The devices are always on, always near and always dear. You’d be hard put to find another advertising medium has all three.

Many Businesses are still location based and are serving people from their area only. If you fall into that category, it’s important for you that your clients would be able to find you, but it’ll be a waste of time and money to try and rank high on the internet on the national or international level.

For a local companies looking for local customers or a national company steering customers to local storefronts, local search provides targeted messages to the consumer searching for a product or service in a particular area.

With the advent of mobile devices and other location based services, directing consumers to nearby physical locations is becoming more and more sophisticated. Location based services or LSB, as they are commonly referred to as, is an age old concept that has been around since the arrival of first business phone books or yellow pages.

However, the technology used is rather new and this factor has changed the face of location based marketing. This form of marketing calls for various business tactics – from advertising on local papers, radio stations, channels and billboard advertising to using location detection services like GPS and triangulation technology.

Location based marketing is a marketing method that changes depending on the location of potential clients. Instead of treating customers as a monolithic entity, location based marketing adapts to the particular social, cultural and personal traits of customers by making assumptions about their habits and preferences based on their location at a particular moment. Technological advances have allowed companies to know much more about their clients’ locations so they can target these clients individually.

Today location based marketing is very important to differentiate  your business from the crowd. Mobile marketing would be the first choice which delivers text messages to the consumers on their cell phones which not only gives information about your business but also help them to locate your business. And if they are nearer to your business location in a mindset to make a purchase, then that would be “icing on the cake”. Mobile marketing is the perfect for consumers but it depends on what service you might be offering to your consumers.

Instead of increasing web traffic and hoping that customers will visit and make purchase, location based marketing directly helps your business increase foot traffic, bringing consumers closer to your physical point of sales.

Marketing campaign organizers attempt to adapt their message to the people who are likely to view them. The advertisements you view in a large city, for example, are likely to vary from those you may see in a rural setting. This is because businesses make educated guesses on the socio-economic nature of people based on where they’re located. For instance, marketers who target airports know that their target audience has enough financial resources to travel and has time on their hands while waiting to board a flight or pass through security, so these marketers adapt their billboards, digital displays and fliers to the particular characteristics of that audience.

Marketers who advertise on websites or who use search engines to find clients can determine where Internet users are located by the computers’ unique Internet protocol, or IP, address. For example, if an Internet user in Delhi types “Mexican restaurants” into a search engine field, the user’s IP address tips off the search engine to the user’s location so that it can provide information and advertisements for Mexican restaurants in Delhi.

However, with so many different location technologies like Foursquare, Google Places and recently Twitter and Facebook Places, location based marketing has become a complex issue for business owners and advertisers.

(1) We first have to identify the campaign’s goals and define our target audience.

(2) Second, we have to decide which location-based technology is best to reach our target audience. Advertisers usually just pick one location platform because it can be quite a challenge to manage multiple platforms.

(3) Third, we have to understand how the technology works to ensure the campaign idea can be performed, tracked and analyzed. It’s a hell load of work and this complexity hinders the adoption rate of location based marketing.

Local businesses have been using social media successfully for some time now, and we know that mobile usage is always growing, smartphone users look at their phone about 150 times per day, especially in the field of purchasing.  It only makes sense that these elements would combine to present consumers with an ultimate experience. If it’s well thought out and targeted properly, the immediate rewards you offer your customers at a specific place will be entirely beneficial to your brand.

Companies that are experimenting with the idea have already experienced positive results, making it a premise to keep in mind when planning your next marketing program. A social/local/mobile technique will help you to add a new level of precision to your campaigns that will reduce wasteful ad spend by reaching the right people at the right time with the right offer, ultimately increasing success.

By leveraging marketing campaigns that tap into the location of specific customer demographics, companies can be proactive with that information — e.g., present more targeted offers that will drive local brick-and-mortar loyalty, in-store purchases and word-of-mouth within their neighborhood.

SoLoMo is best utilized by businesses with tangible products or services to sell like restaurants or bookstores. Businesses that need local traffic to stay alive are who should be looking into SoLoMo campaigns. Retailers benefit most from it because they can communicate with potential consumers that are literally only a few steps from their store.

Both local businesses and companies with many local locations have a lot to gain from this marketing venture. Small businesses must learn to take advantage of the opportunities SoLoMo offers in order to compete with the larger enterprises that will undoubtedly increase their marketing efforts for incorporating SoLoMo strategies.

Popular location-based services like FourSquare, Google Places, and Facebook Places have millions of active users who use their handheld or mobile devices to check in to wherever place they are, and publishing them publicly to keep their friends and the rest of the world updated of their whereabouts.

This  can greatly affect social media marketing as well as Search Engine Optimization (more specifically Local SEO).  As most search engines are now using social signals to rank websites, every check-in at your business, office or restaurant can affect how search engines will rank your website, or what search engines will return to users once the name of your company is searched online.

One reason for slow LBS growth in India has been the cultural indifference of how Indians perceive maps in daily life. With time and exposure to maps based services like Google Maps, Nokia’s pre-embedded navigation, etc., people seem to be crossing the cultural divide and are now ready to explore LBS beyond just maps and navigation.

How Location Based Marketing Can Help You Connect with Customers

Companies are using location based marketing in a number of ways to connect with customers. Some tend to stick with only one tool to keep things simple. Others use all of the tools to stay connected with their customers on a variety of fronts.

One of the most preferred ways for successful location based marketing is having a mobile-friendly website that has been optimized for local searches. This can be done by paying more attention on including geo-specific and industry-specific terms. Businesses can also include title tags and meta descriptions that are locally optimized. It is also important to optimize the social pages locally and get local reviews.

A number of social media websites such as Foursquare and Facebook offer the facility of check-ins. This is a great method of word-of-mouth advertising as once a user has checked-in your business it is publicized to the friends of the users hence spreading a word about your business. The growing use of GPS is the key-driver in location based marketing. It helps host a number of applications that businesses can make use of.

From the outlook of a marketer, location based marketing comes with a number of benefits.

  • It helps capture the target customers effectively. If the customer is within the location of your business, he is more likely to visit  your store in comparison to a store that is a bit farther.
  • Sending advertisements within the real time can result in prompt response from the customers.
  • Targeting promotional material electronically helps save on printing inventory.
  • Location based marketing results in increased ROI.

On one hand where a professional SEO for a website is important, it is equally vital that you keep your business updated with the latest technologies to attract customers. When you align your business with the latest e-commerce tools and techniques it means you are preparing in advance.

How Location Based Marketing Can Improve Local SEO

Ratings and reviews are the digital equivalent of “word-of-mouth” referrals and are probably one of the most important local search elements. The quality and quantity of ratings and review contribute to how often the search engines display your listing or your location. They are to local search what “backlinks” are to SEO, creating credibility and authority for your business online. Encourage your customers to write short reviews.

According to Google’s statistics, 20% of all searches contain local terms and keywords with 97% of consumers searching for local products and services online. And that figure is continuously growing, especially with the increasing number of smartphone owners.

If you have a coffee shop business, you should make use of location-based services to help boost your shop’s popularity both online and offline.  This can be done by registering your business name and location and let customers “check-in” every time they visit your shop.  Most active users of location-based social media sites tend to leave comments or feedbacks as form of assessment on how they enjoy your services or products.

You can make this trend work for your Local Search Engine Optimization campaign by connecting your location-based social media accounts to all your websites and blogs.  You can also feature the link of your website on your account page to let your customers know that you have an official page online.  Once the search engine bots indexed your location-based social media pages (filled with positive feedbacks and massive check-ins from your returning and new clients), expect an improvement in your online visibility most especially in search engine results pages.

Your location-based social media site pages help in vouching your website’s credibility by showing off to search engines that you are legitimate and your customers are satisfied with your services.  So, if an internet user will search for “best coffee shop in Dallas”, which website do you think Google will display on top of the results page?  Surely the ones which are popular and got high ratings from satisfied customers.

How does your company use SoLoMo? If you don’t have a SoLoMo program, are you interested? Tell us your thoughts.